It is worth recapping some interesting conversations related to a blog post I made last week about the OpenDocument Foundation support of CDF (Compound Document Format). The points I was making were picked up by a few reporters – Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet and Martin LaMonica at CNET for example. There was also a brief article by Lucy Sherriff (my blog was not mentioned there) at The Register about the question of suspended development for the da Vinci project from the OpenDocument Foundation. Moreover, Gary Edwards has put up a big blog posting (long read) explaining his position on these issues. You might want to read the Rob Weir posting on the OpenDocument Foundation as well. Also, you should really look at Tim Anderson’s comments about Adobe to round out the discussion a little.
Ok, where does this leave us? First, the real issue is being to surface in the threads above. ODF originally was a representation of the features in OpenOffice. Open XML originally was a representation of the features in Microsoft Office. Adobe’s Mars project is likely (I have not done any digging on this one) a representation of their applications. This means, all of these formats have different strengths and weaknesses (performance, file size, custom schema, other capabilities…). It means that developers making decisions about what format to take advantage of has a rich set of choices open to them today. The fact that XML underpinnings are being married to standardization of the high-level formats is a good thing. That standardization should not become a mechanism for slowing/stopping innovation in those applications. That does not serve customers well.
To highlight my points – two quotes from those links above:
Gary Edwards points out about ODF and Sun:
Sun has already made it clear at the OASIS ODF TC that they are not going to compromise (or degrade) the new and innovative features and implementation model of OpenOffice just to be compatible with the existing 550 million MSOffice desktops.
Tim Anderson points out about Adobe:
It [Adobe] wants the world to accept its runtimes and formats as standards, while preserving its commercial advantage in controlling them.
My take-away on this is that commercial competition, not in document formats, but in the applications space – is the real juice behind the document format discussion. I’m fine with that, but it seems unsavory to many and takes away from the purity message of the ODF advocates. But, IBMs investments in ODF are not about making Sun wealthy, nor are they about their customers. Their investment on ODF is meant to create market opportunity for their products and services…period. Again, I’m jiggy with that – but let’s talk directly about these issues rather than around them.
Next, I have seen a few comments about the Open XML Ballort Resolution Meeting (BRM) recently that I wanted to address today as well. None of the blogosphere postings about ODF/CDF/Open XML will directly affect the BRM process. The Ballot Resolution Meeting will move ahead based on the quality of the work done by the Project Editor and Ecma TC45. I did read one incorrect statement from someone – so let’s make this clear. There were more than 3000 comments with the votes (yes, no, and abstain). The work being done now is to respond to all comments in a professional, and thoughtful manner. The National Bodies will then need to consider the dispositions presented in order to determine how it affects their vote. If they feel the dispositions are satisfactory – and had previously voted no, they may change to yes (or of course choose to leave their vote as no). Generally speaking this is the accepted practice. The rules do not exclude the possibility of a yes moving to no, but that is not common practice. As for the process at the BRM itself – they will clearly need to think about how to categorize the issues and how to efficiently work through them. My understanding is that approximately 50% of the comments are duplicates, and a significant portion are editorial in nature. The real work, and discussion, will focus around a much smaller number of points. I am sure that will be more than enough for some very serious, high quality discussion at the meeting.